University of Texas at Dallas
Panel: “Evolving Reading Practices”
On the Internet—where banner, pop-up, and in-text ads interweave with content—literature and seemingly unrelated words and images collide. When poetry is remediated on the Internet, the boundaries we set between the poetic object and contextual frame become apparent as choices that are worth interrogation. Emily Dickinson’s poetry appears on a variety of scholarly and nonscholarly web sites, some of which are filled with online ads. Without a doubt, her words have come a long way from the manuscripts and fascicles that once filled the drawers of her desk in Amherst, Massachusetts. Yet, tracing origins does not always bring clarity to texts. As Sharon Cameron points out in Choosing Not Choosing, unity or understanding is not produced through reading Dickinson’s poems in a fascicle context. “What is more radically revealed,” Cameron writes, “is a question about what constitutes the identity of the poem” (4). Online advertising, as it becomes more intrusive and targeted, also reveals questions about what constitutes a literary text and a poem in particular. The Internet is not so much a threat as it is a new textual dimension from which we can learn to be more attentive to language and the interpretive choices we make as readers.